Concrete

Roman Building Techniques – Stronger Than We Thought

There is something unusual about Roman sea walls: they last for a very long time. In fact, while modern concrete erodes when exposed to seawater and eventually requires replacement, Roman concrete grows even stronger. Professor Marie Jackson at the University of Utah investigated the old concrete using imaging techniques called electron microscopy, X-ray micro-diffraction, and Raman spectroscopy. The Romans made concrete out of a mixture of … Continue reading Roman Building Techniques – Stronger Than We Thought

Gallium

Scientists draw from nature to build a material that is both stiff and tough—a rarity in material science

In material science, it is difficult to engineer a material that is both highly stiff and tough. In the past, scientists have increased the stiffness of soft polymers by adding nano-sized particles of stiff materials (e.g. carbon nanotubes, silica), but this does not increase the toughness. Drawing inspiration from structures in nature that are both stiff and tough, scientists injected a flexible elastomer disc with pockets of liquid gallium. Compared to control structures, the addition of liquid gallium significantly increased the stiffness and toughness of the overall structure. While this study leaves us with several questions, it demonstrates that putting liquid inside of solid doesn’t necessarily make the combined material softer, thus contradicting a long-standing theory in the material-science world. Continue reading Scientists draw from nature to build a material that is both stiff and tough—a rarity in material science

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It’s Going Viral: (Re)-emerging viruses and epidemics in our increasingly global world

by Apurva Govande figures by Anna Maurer Viruses and the globe In a hidden part of our world exists the vastly diverse microscopic universe. This micro-universe exerts a great amount of influence on our lives via minuscule, unseen molecular packages like viruses. Viruses are tiny structures made of protein that can contain DNA or RNA (the more unstable cousin of DNA) to produce more viruses after infecting … Continue reading It’s Going Viral: (Re)-emerging viruses and epidemics in our increasingly global world

Teeth_SITN

Tooth Decay: An epidemic in America’s poorest children

by Leah Rosenbaum Last April, Dr. Paul Reggiardo saw a patient who was referred to his dental office in Huntington Beach, California from the local emergency room. She was an eight-year-old girl with facial swelling, the soft tissue on her head puffy from infection. It was facial cellulitis, said Reggiardo, caused by an infected tooth. He sees multiple cases like this each year: an untreated … Continue reading Tooth Decay: An epidemic in America’s poorest children

Human Lymphocyte

Turning the Immune System into an Equal Opportunity Cancer Killer

Results from a small clinical trial comprising 86 cancer patients have prompted scientists to rethink how different cancers are classified and treated. The drug being assessed was Keytruda, a recent addition to oncologists’ arsenal of cancer immunotherapy drugs.  Unlike traditional chemotherapies, which poison and kill cancer cells directly, cancer immunotherapy recruits the body’s own self-defense machinery to attack tumors.  Although our immune systems are very good … Continue reading Turning the Immune System into an Equal Opportunity Cancer Killer

heart-cardiogram

An Electrifying New Role for the Immune System in Heart Health

by Giulia Notarangelo figures by Rebecca Clements The human body fights off noxious intruders on a daily basis to maintain our health and prevent disease. The army of cells that is responsible for leading this fight is called the immune system. The immune system is comprised of a myriad of cells, each having their own defense strategy. Among these cells are the macrophages. As their … Continue reading An Electrifying New Role for the Immune System in Heart Health

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(2 x prime) + 1 = ? :The 200-year-old story of Sophie Germain and its 21st century legacy

by Qingbo Wang figures by Anna Maurer In 2014, the Fields Medal, often described as the “Nobel Prize of Mathematics,” was awarded to a Harvard alumnus and mathematician, Maryam Mirzakhani. The mathematics society celebrated not only her sophisticated theory of geometry and dynamical systems, but also the fact that she is the first female and Iranian to receive this prestigious prize. Although the news indicates … Continue reading (2 x prime) + 1 = ? :The 200-year-old story of Sophie Germain and its 21st century legacy